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Giffords Circus: The Anti-Cirque du Soleil

The Cotswolds sometimes seem lost in time, a relic of a simpler way of life. Each summer this vibe is heightened by the appearance of Giffords Circus’ burgundy-painted wagons winding their way along the country lanes. Apart from the occasional surreal touch—the cotton candy vendor, a live turkey for an oracle—this traveling circus is firmly rooted in the past.

Cotton candy for Surrealists

This year’s Greek-god themed production, The Thunders, features a ballerina dancing en pointe atop her partner’s head, acrobats catapulting off an over-sized seesaw, and a clown pretending to throw knives at a blindfolded audience member. A pair of rescued dalmatians, after much cajoling, jump through a hoop, a dog rides a pony, and there’s a goose, just because. All frivolity is to the accompaniment of a live band.

Interval tea served in a proper mug

After the show we joined 40 other audience members at the Circus Sauce restaurant in a tent set up outside the chow wagon. Here we feasted family-style on a meal of pease pudding and pork belly served from atmospherically chipped Emma Bridgewater pottery. The cooks put on a marionette show, but the real entertainment at our end of the table was provided by two women doing a very convincing impression of the French and Saunders country ladies (start at 1:02 here)

The Sauce Restaurant tent

Don’t miss it. Remaining dates on this year’s tour are here.